BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti announced in an email to staff on Thursday that the company will be laying off 15% of its workforce and shutting down its news unit. The layoffs will impact BuzzFeed’s business, content, administration, and tech teams, totaling approximately 180 people.
BuzzFeed News, which had about 100 employees and reportedly lost about $10 million a year, was known for its straight news and investigative reporting, and had won a Pulitzer Prize in 2021 for its coverage of China’s mass detention of Muslims. However, several large shareholders had been urging Peretti to shut down its news operations.
This move comes amid a challenging period for digital media companies, as publishers are cutting staff due to reduced spending by advertisers.
Peretti acknowledged fault in not managing the changes better and being slow to realize that major platforms would not provide the necessary distribution or financial support for premium journalism designed for social media. He also mentioned that revenue chief Edgar Hernandez and operating chief Christian Baesler have decided to leave the company.
BuzzFeed had previously cut nearly 12% of its workforce, or around 180 staffers, in December 2022, citing challenging economic conditions and its acquisition of Complex Networks. The company had also reduced its real estate footprint in New York and plans to further reduce its Los Angeles real estate from four buildings to one.
Peretti also mentioned that the company is considering headcount reductions in some international markets. The digital media industry as a whole has been facing economic headwinds, with declining advertising spending in technology and finance, as well as disruptions to distribution and revenue share. Other digital media companies, such as Insider, have also announced layoffs due to similar challenges in the industry.
Peretti expressed that BuzzFeed has faced numerous challenges in recent years, including the impact of the pandemic, a fading SPAC market, a tech recession, a tough economy, a declining stock market, and ongoing shifts in audience and platforms. He acknowledged the need to adapt and make changes to ensure the company’s health and competitiveness in the ever-evolving digital media landscape.